A spectrum of soreness: Why you have a sore throat

Having a sore throat is never something we want to wake up to. There are many reasons for a sore throat, some more common than others. It can feel sore in various ways, and in different areas, often signifying something different. So it’s also handy to be aware of the common and not-so-common causes. In this article, we go into detail on the different ways a throat can feel sore, and the different reasons this may be.

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Why is my throat itchy?

Flu

Having a sore throat is a common symptom of the flu, as the virus enters the body and irritates the tissue, causing your throat to feel itchy and inflamed. You can get vaccinated at your local pharmacy through Hey Pharmacist to avoid getting a sore throat from the flu.

Strep Throat

Strep throat is another bacterial infection that primarily impacts your throat, making it feel sore and scratchy, often with a rash, but can also cause symptoms such as fever and nausea. Strep throat is fairly uncommon but left untreated can cause larger complications like kidney inflammation or rheumatic fever. It’s wise to speak to your GP if you think you have strep throat.

Lady holding her neck because she has a sore throat

Hay Fever

Even after flu season is over, those suffering from hay fever can’t avoid a sore throat when pollen season swiftly arrives. Those struggling with allergies will produce more mucus than usual, which can drip down the throat, causing a sore and irritated throat.

What causes a scratchy throat?

Smoking

Inhaling cigarette smoke is bound to cause some damage to your throat. It can seriously damage your throat, leaving permanent effects.

When smoking you may feel that you have a scratchy throat. This can lead to persistent coughs, or ‘smokers cough’. To avoid this, your pharmacist can point you in the right direction to help you stop smoking for good.

Dry Air

Having a sore throat may not be anything health-related, and simply something to do with your surroundings and the air that you’re breathing in. Dry air has no moisture in it, meaning your throat may dry up and become scratchy. Air conditioning is a common cause of a scratchy throat. Drinking water can help soothe it back to normal.

Grazed Throat

Your throat has to put up with a lot of different substances daily, some are very acidic, others may be tough and hard. Sometimes, something may not slide down quite as easily, grazing or scratching your throat along the way. To avoid grazing your throat, make sure you chew your food and drink plenty of water

Woman holding her neck due to a sore throat

Why does it hurt to swallow?

Tonsil Stones

Tonsil stones are not as scary as they sound but are a nuisance. The various pockets and crevices within the mouth make it easy for food to get lodged. When food is stuck in these areas it forms small, pale ‘stones’ in your mouth that you can feel when you swallow that can irritate the surrounding area, and also cause bad breath. Tonsil stones can be removed by lightly pressing your neck where the stone is, coughing, and gargling salt water.

Tonsillitis

When your throat begins to hurt, it’s normal for your first thought to be that it’s tonsillitis, the infection of the tonsils. Tonsillitis makes it painful and difficult to swallow, causing a sore throat as well as flu-like symptoms, as well as white spots on the tonsils. Tonsillitis will usually last 3 to 4 days.

Laryngitis

Have you ever felt like you’ve lost your voice, along with a cough and sore throat? It could be Laryngitis. Laryngitis is the swelling and irritation of the voice box and vocal cords, usually caused by a viral infection, but can also be caused by allergies, acid reflux, constant coughing, and the habit of always clearing your throat. Luckily, drinking water and refraining from speaking too much help you get your voice back.

Why do I have a dry throat?

Dehydration

Your body runs on water, so it’s important to drink plenty of water so that everything can function properly. If you don’t, you won’t produce enough saliva to keep your mouth moist, which can leave your throat feeling dry. A simple fix: drink more water!

Head Cold

A head cold, or common cold, comes with no end of symptoms, one being a sore, dry throat. Common colds are something that we will always come across, they’re never pleasant, but you’ll feel better after a week or so.

Man with a glass of water and looking uncomfortable from a sore throat

Why is my sore throat worse at night?

Your sore throat may be worse at night because of a lack of fluid. We lose approximately a liter of water during the night. So that loss of water may dry up your throat, making it sore. Furthermore, if you have a cold, your sore throat may feel worse at night because you’re needing to breathe through your mouth. If you snore too, this may also contribute to your sore throat feeling worse during the night.

Your local pharmacist can recommend the best products to soothe your sore throat. If you continue to have a sore throat after a week, it’s recommended that you speak to your GP as it could be a sign of something more serious, so it’s good to get it checked early. If prescribed medication, Hey Pharmacist can help you keep on top of it with our updates, reminders, and easy-to-navigate dashboard.